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Communication as Culture, Revised Edition: Essays on Media and Society (Media & Popular Culture) [Paperback]

G. Stuart Adam , James W. Carey


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1 Dec 1988 041590725X 978-0415907255 1
Carey's seminal work joins central issues in the field and redefines them. It will force the reader to think in new and fruitful ways about such dichotomies as transmissions vs. ritual, administrative vs. critical, positivist vs. marxist, and cultural vs. power-orientated approaches to communications study. An historically inspired treatment of major figures and theories, required reading for the sophisticated scholar' - George Gerbner, University of Pennsylvania "...offers a mural of thought with a rich background, highlighted by such thoughts as communication being the 'maintenance of society in time'." - Cast/Communication Booknotes These essays encompass much more than a critique of an academic discipline. Carey's lively thought, lucid style, and profound scholarship propel the reader through a wide and varied intellectual landscape, particularly as these issues have affected Modern American thought. As entertaining as it is enlightening, Communication as Culture is certain to become a classic in its field.

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"Carey's seminal work joins central issues in the field and redefines them. AN historically inspired treatment of major figures and theories, required reading for the sophisticated scholar.."-George Gerbner, Dean, The Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania

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"When I decided some years ago to read seriously the literature of communications, a wise man suggested I begin with John Dewey." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the bible of communication studies/cultural studies. 19 Nov 2001
By Stephen I. Hersh - Published on Amazon.com
If you are going to read one book on communication studies or cultural studies, read this. It presents a theory of what culture is (or in other words, a theory of how communication works). The book is must reading for anyone interested in anthropology, psychotherapy, literature, journalism, foreign affairs....
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Gem 24 July 2014
By Jake Keenan - Published on Amazon.com
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The brilliant clarity that this book brings to how communications theory opens up economics, philosophy, politics, etc. did not dawn on me at first reading but only after I picked it up after a couple of years. It could be described as a cross of Marx and McLuhan that focuses critically across social issues especially in North America. It appears to be a “best of” collection of essays that were written into the eighties. It was a feast to read and to digest and is of the quality that is almost a classic. I leave a few morsels for you to taste.

“A ritual view of communication is directed not toward the extension of messages in space but toward the maintenance of society in time; not the act of imparting information but the representation of shared beliefs.” [p 18]

“... communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed.” [p 23]

“But social life is more than power and trade (and it is more than therapy as well). As Williams has argued, it also includes the sharing of aesthetic experience, religious ideas, personal values and sentiments, and intellectual notions–a ritual order.” [p 34]

“Social scientists have political theories and subjects have political ideologies; the behavior of social scientists is free and rationally informed, whereas their subjects are conditioned and ruled by habit and superstition–not good intellectual soil for a working democracy.” [p 62]

It is the great power of symbols to portray that which they pretend to describe. That is, symbols have an ‘of’ and a ‘for’ side. It is this dual nature that allows us to produce the world by symbolic work and then take up residence in the world so produced.” [p 85]

Preferred jobs are positional goods, as opposed to material goods,... and they are valued because they are in short supply.” [p 102]

To the old slogan that money is to the West what kinship is to the rest he added that kinship performs a continuing integrative function in advanced societies. In a sense Durkheim inverts the relations of base and superstructure: the capitalist economy thrives on the root system of traditional society.” [p 109]

“For Innis uncovered the most vulnerable point in the rhetoric of the electrical sublime and disputed all those claims for electricity that McLuhan celebrated. Innis principally disputed the notion that electricity would replace centralization in economics and politics with decentralization, democracy, and a cultural revival. Innis placed the ‘tragedy of modern culture’ in America and Europe upon the intrinsic tendencies of both printing press and electronic media to reduce space and time to the service of a calculus of commercialism and expansionism.” [p133]

“Seymour Mandelbaum’s Boss Tweed’s New York is a marvelous though often complacent study of the reorganization of New York City essentially on a metropole-hinterland model. My own studies suggest that same model of development holds true at the regional and county levels.

“The United States, then, at all levels of social structure pursued what I call a high communications policy, one aimed solely at spreading messages further in space and reducing the cost of transmission.” [p 155]

“Innis argued that changes in communication technology affected culture by altering the structure of interests (the things thought about) by changing the character of symbols (the things thought with), and by changing the nature of community (the arena in which thought developed).” [p 160]

“The First Amendment, then, did not secure the permanence of public life; in fact it acted against it because it finally placed the weight of education on the written tradition. Modern media of communication, largely for commercial purposes, created a system of communication that was essentially private. Private reading and the reading audience replaced the reading public and the public of discussion and argument. The system of communication that actually evolved was grounded, therefore, not merely in a spatial bias but in a privatized one as well. It was privatization more than the Bill of Rights that led to the decline of censorship: ‘Decline in the practice of reading aloud led to a decline in the importance of censorship. The individual was taken over by the printing industry and his interest developed in material not suited to general conversation’. Under such conditions the public becomes a mere statistical artifact, public taste a measure of private opinion that has been both cultivated and objectified but not realized in discourse. With that the public sphere goes into eclipse.” [p 166]

“Modern oracles, like their ancient counterparts, constitute a privileged class who monopolize new forms of knowledge and alternatively panic and enrapture large audiences as they portray new versions of the future. Moreover, modern scientific elites often occupy the same double role of oracles to the people and servants of the ruling class as did the astrologers of ancient civilization.” [p 173]

“Modern engineering is communication engineering, for its major preoccupation is not the economy of energy ‘but the accurate reproduction of a signal.’” [p 190]

“The technology of the computer and the satellite has real effects, among them the capacity to simulate complex environments and to reduce, as I said at the outset, time to a picosecond and space to a universal point. But postmodernism too often merely evacuates the present into a landscape where the world is all surface, no depth, and the vulgar appears sublime.” [p 200]

“The most important fact about the telegraph is at once the most obvious and innocent: It permitted for the first time the effective separation of communication from transportation.” [p 203]

“If the same story were to be understood in the same way from Maine to California, language had to be flattened out and standardized. The telegraph, therefore, led to the disappearance of forms of speech and styles of journalism and story telling–the tall story, the hoax, much humor, irony, and satire–that depended on a more traditional use of the symbolic, a use I earlier called the fiduciary. The origins of objectivity may be sought, therefore, in the necessity of stretching language in space over the long lines of Western Union.” [p 210]

“After the telegraph, commodity trading moved from trading between places to trading between times. The arbitrager trades Cincinnati for St. Louis; the futures trader sells August against October, this year against next.” [p 218]
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